Thursday, 25 March 2010

March Bits & Bobs

Nothing major to report so another miscellaneous bits and pieces round up of some local birding and news. I've spent almost all my birding time on Port Meadow this month, partly as a result of my experience last year when the floods had all dried up by May so I feel that it's important to get the most from it whilst the water is still there. There's not been anything terribly unusual with little ringed plover and some passing black-tailed godwits making up the main interest but it's great to get down there each day and to see what's dropped in and what new summer migrants have arrived. I've had swallows and sand martins hawking over the Meadow already and a couple of days ago I heard the first singing chiffchaffs in Burgess Field. It's always great when the summer birds do actually turn up again, very much a feeling of affirming that spring is here and that better weather is coming. Funnily enough I don't feel quite the same way about the winter migrants arriving, it's more a depressing confirmation that darker days are ahead!

Last weekend I did manage a Sunday morning visit to Wytham Wood with L, my three and a half year old son, in tow. I've not taken L for some time now as he's not so much of a burden at home now and also now he's old enough to know his own mind and being dragged out birding is not high up on his list of priorities at present. However he seemed reasonably persuadable that morning, especially with the promise of an early Easter egg to take with him (what kind of crap dad am I?). We had a gentle stroll up the hill from the car park with my priority being finding some marsh tits which I duly did. It was all a bit quiet in the wood so I suppose that with the better weather the birds are now more actively calling at first light. There were some calling buzzards flying about overhead and several nuthatches including an obliging bird which sat still long enough for me to digiscope him. L enjoyed the trip, not only for the bonus egg but also because we stopped of at Wolvercote playground for a while on the way back.

Wytham nuthatch

After my excitement at finding a Med. gull on the Meadow a while back I've seen two more this month though one was found by someone else (James Grundy) who kindly texted me so that could come down to see it.

Another adult summer plumaged Med. gull that really stood out from the crowd
There were less gulls around to obscure this one (found by James Grundy) though it was quite dark by the time I saw it

Various black-tailed godwit flocks have been dropping in though never staying for very long. They do look very smart in their summer colours though

Some good news and some sad news to report. The good news is that the lesser black-backed gull that I rescued on the 4th February last month has been nursed back to health by Tiggywinkles and was released back into the wild. I have been amazed at how much time and effort Tiggywinkles have spent just on one gull. It really is a great place! The not so good news is that I found another injured gull on the Meadow a week or so ago and took it back home with the intention of taking it to the same place. However within an hour of my bringing it home it had died in the box that I put it in. I don't know whether it was the stress of it all (I know that small birds are very susceptible to this) or whether I did something wrong (perhaps it got too hot or was thirsty or something) but the fact is that it wouldn't have lasted long out on the Meadow anyway. Still I was rather saddened by the outcome.

The injured herring gull

I've got a bit excited because we arranged a last minute Easter holiday down to the far reaches of Cornwall again. We often go down either at this time of year or in the autumn but took a break last year after our "Cottage of Vomit" experience the previous autumn when we all got a 24 hour tummy bug one after another. I've been doing some research on Bird Guides and unfortunately the Penwith peninsula is not really the rarity magnet that it is in the autumn but there should be a few interesting birds to catch up with and I should at least be able to put in a few hours of sea watching which is not something I get to do much of normally.

One more piece of news. I was rather pleased to find that Bird Guides used my photo of the Thorpe Marshes rough-legged buzzard in their weekly round-up which they send out to all subscribers. They send out a text-only e-mail but also include write-up on their web site with photos and my buzzard photos was used for this. I did have a sneaking suspicion that it might have been used as I've not seen any close up photos of any of the Norfolk RL buzzards all winter. It seems that my policy of "if I can see it in the scope and it stays still for long enough I'll digiscope it" paid off! Actually I have had a couple of previous photos used for the weekly round up: the Appleford Baltic gull and the Sonning Eye American wigeon both from last year.

Just a couple more ticks to add to the year lists. Soon the bulk of the warblers will start arriving and things will kick off properly.

Oxon Year List 2010
103 marsh tit 21/03 Wytham Wood
104 chiffchaff 23/03 Burgess Field

National Year List 2010
121 marsh tit 21/03 Wytham Wood
122 chiffchaff 23/03 Burgess Field

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